CHEPSTOW’S Jump Season Opener gets off with a bang with the Grade 2 Persian War Novices Hurdle opening Friday’s card at 2.10.

A mouth-watering contest is in prospect with 20 initial entries, including horses from the Nicholls, Hobbs, Skelton, Tizzard and Twiston-Davies yards, and one from Ireland. Not to mention two trained by Rebecca Curtis, Ruthless Article and Sunset Showdown, who have been making hay during the summer jumps season.

Secret Investor won the 2018 running for Paul Nicholls, whose Trevelyn’s Corn has been installed as favourite for Friday’s race even though he is likely to go novice chasing afterwards. The trainer said at his open day last month: “There’ll be a lot more to come from him.”

Quality is high throughout the two-day meeting. Gloucestershire-based Cotswold Stone Supplies are the new sponsors of Saturday’s £50,000 Silver Trophy Handicap Hurdle, one of the richest races of the season at Chepstow. It is the first time the family-run business, which supplies building, landscaping and architectural stone from their own quarry, has ventured into race sponsorship and it’s a coup for Chepstow to have enticed them across the border.

Evan Williams likes to have a winner here – Court Minstrel and Silver Streak have done well for him in the handicap hurdles in recent years, so watch out for his runners.

The Dai Burchell team had a frustrating near miss at Uttoxeter on Sunday. Clearly Capable lived up to his name in summer 2018. He had every chance when falling at the final flight at Worcester, and was beaten a short head in a seller next time out. He had the race won, only to idle on the run-in and be caught on the line. Burchell claimed him for £6,000 and he promptly ran a good race again, finishing second. Wind surgery followed soon after, but other problems have cropped up and Sunday’s outing was the horse’s first in 14 months. He’s a ten-year-old now, and with the clock ticking Burchell wouldn’t want to wait too long before aiming the horse at a suitable target.

Clearly Capable made all the running to two out and had 12 of his 13 rivals well beaten. Unfortunately the 13th, Hen, ran on strongly to spoil the party. Hen was a rare case of a three-year-old filly competing in a handicap hurdle, but her astute connections knew she was up to the task. Let’s hope Clearly Capable’s luck changes before long.

The consistent Smokey Lane won an amateur jockeys’ race for David Evans at Windsor on Monday. The horse had been running well, although his last victory was two and a half years ago, when he was rated over two stone higher than he is now. Evans trained him then, only for him to be moved round three other yards before returning to the Pandy stable in the spring. He was due to be turned out again at Leicester yesterday afternoon.

Last Thursday at Wolverhampton Evans’ two-year-old filly A Go Go got off the mark at the fifth time of asking. She’d shown a bit of ability on her previous run at Ffos Las, which was over six furlongs. Dropping back to five this time did the trick. At 14/1 she was very much the stable second string, but the favourite Call Me Cheers appeared to find the trip too sharp, coming in sixth.

Ron Harris’ Glamorous Force ran his best race to date in fourth. His turn will come. The Earlswood yard’s best two-year-old, Don’t Stop Dancing, finished in midfield in the 28-runner sales race at Newmarket on Saturday. He may have to ply his trade in nurseries now.